Theme Weeks

Culture & Spring Flowers of Crete

(spring season, dates upon request; minimum participants required)

Crete was isolated from the mainland 5 million years ago. This, combined with the dramatic terrain of the island has resulted in a wealth of species.

The flora of Crete is one of the most interesting and significant in Europe and has over 1,700 different plant species. More than 170 of these are endemic and 38 are found in Crete and the nearby island of Karpathos and nowhere else on earth. Although the flora is considered to be one of the best studied in the Mediterranean, the categories of plant species changes steadily due to the impenetrable mountain areas and gorges that have yet to be explored.

As far as Crete’s endemics are concerned, around 56% of them grow in the Lefka Ori mountain range (White Mountains) and 16% can be found only in this area. Many of the rare and endemic plants grow in the beautiful gorges in the southern part of Chania.

Some plants in the Chania prefecture are highly endangered and currently two species are recorded in the catalogue of the 50 most threatened Mediterranean island plants. These are protected by plant micro-reserves with part funding by the EU.

During your stay at the Mistral Hotel, we will show you a variety of plants but we will also allow time to relax and have fun, taste some wonderful Cretan food and enjoy Spring, nature’s most important feast: the “rebirth of life”.

Typical Itinerary

1st day

We begin the holiday with orange picking from the vast inland groves, then onto a spot of nature watching at Agia Lake with time to relax with a coffee and enjoy the stunning views of the White Mountains. From here we visit the Botanical Gardens of Crete to discover hundreds of different types of fruit trees, herbs, flowers, medicinal and ornamental plants in this uniquely landscaped park in the foothills of the White Mountains. Our lunch will be taken overlooking the valleys of olive groves.

2nd day

Today we travel east to the Apokoronas area of Chania where we will have a tour of the Dourakis Winery. Located 330m above sea level each vineyard has its own microclimate, unique soil quality, and grape variety all of which produces wine of distinctive quality and character. We shall enjoy the local cuisine and in house wines over lunch.

3rd day

A little bit of everything today begins with a one and a half hour walk to the retreat of Milia in the foothills of the White Mountains. Milia is an authentic 17th century settlement which has been transformed into an eco-friendly tourist complex in a location boasting exceptional rugged beauty. Placed among plane trees, chestnut trees and mountain tops the area overwhelms visitors with its unique diversity. Here we enjoy lunch made from locally grown seasonal produce and made using traditional cooking techniques.

4th day

We will visit the Botanical Park and Gardens of Crete, a paradise of plants and animals, full of fruit trees from all over the world, herbs, medicinal and ornamental plants, with a natural trail entirely suitable for walking, covering a total hillside distance of approximately 2.5 km. The dramatic scenery here is composed of rare samples of the local flora and fauna, as well as tropical and subtropical species from all over the world, with new samples added daily.

5th day

For hundreds of years, the Cretan people have been eating the wild greens abundant from their even wilder mountains. Many of the greens are often simply called horta and the knowledge of picking and cooking various types has been transmitted from generation to generation and it is still a popular winter activity among old and young alike. Today we will be guided by a local γιaγιά (grandmother) who will show us how to recognize, pick and prepare the wild greens for cooking.

6th day

On our last day we will visit Biolea, a family-owned company specialising in the artisan production of olive oil using millstones and presses. From here, we drive on to the beautiful gorge of Deliana to see the stunning rock faces, endemic plant life and varied bird life. A pack lunch will be provided.

Dates Standard room
7 nights
Deluxe room
7 nights
Culture & Spring Flowers 2022 upon request 1267€ 1428€

Price includes transfers from/to Chania airport (not unsociable hours), seven continental style buffet breakfasts, seven dinners and four lunches.

All excursions, walks, guiding and transportation costs are included.

All repeat guests will receive a 5% loyalty discount. The prices quoted do not include flights and travel insurance.